Peace prize winners demand release of Chinese dissident
BEIJING: Five Nobel Peace Prize winners have launched a campaign urging the release of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a fellow Nobel recipient, the group said yesterday.
The plea comes a day before the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize is to be presented in Oslo, Norway, and a year after Liu’s award ceremony, which he was unable to attend.
Liu’s empty chair at that ceremony is still a symbol of Chinese government repression, and Chinese search engines have blocked the phrase “empty chair” in a bid to shut down discussion about his case.
The International Committee of Support to Liu Xiaobo said Liu was the only Nobel laureate in prison, and accused the international community of forgetting his plight.
Liu co-authored a manifesto in 2008 calling for an end to single-party rule in China, and was detained later that year. His call for peaceful political change resulted in an 11-year jail sentence on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”.
“Unfortunately, the sentencing to 11 years in prison seems to be forgotten outside China,” said the group, which called for Liu’s “immediate and unconditional release”.
The announcement of Liu’s Nobel Prize last year cheered China’s fractured, persecuted dissident community and brought calls for his release. It also infuriated the Chinese government and authorities harassed and detained dozens of Liu’s supporters.
It resulted in harsh treatment of Liu’s wife. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is also involved in the campaign for Liu’s release. – Sapa-ap